Prayer in the Catechism of the
Catholic Church #3
December 10, 1995
Brother John Raymond
We have been looking at the Catechism of the Catholic Church on
prayer. Having seen prayer as a gift and covenant, we now want to
look at it as communion. As we have mentioned before, the bottom
line of prayer is one of relationship. It is living in communion
with God our Father, His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ and with the
Holy Spirit. Kind of a unique relationship, I mean, we get Three
Persons in our communion with the one God.
Now a life of prayer is nothing other than the habit of being in
the presence of God and in communion with Him. This communion is
possible because through Baptism we have been united with Christ.
Jesus in His Person as Son of God reconciles the Human nature with
the Divine nature, which sin had driven apart. His humanity restores
our humanity. He is the bridge between God and Man, as St. Catherine
of Siena was told by God the Father. He is the link back to
communion with the Trinity. Through Him we receive the Holy Spirit,
the fount of our participation in the life of God. Thus, our prayer
can be called Christian "insofar as it is communion with Christ and
extends throughout the Church, which is His Body." (#2565)
In this time of ecumenical dialogue some have become confused
about this last point. So we have Christians looking to Hinduism,
Buddhism, etc. as being able to teach us how to pray. I remember
attending a workshop given by a Catholic woman about a new form of
prayer. She told everybody to close their eyes, breath deeply, relax
their body, clear their minds (no images, just blank__something like
my mind when I wake up in the morning) and repeat some word over and
over again (this particular word I had never heard before.) I asked
her what it meant. She said she didn't know but that wasn't
important. The idea is to just repeat it and relax. I can guarantee
you that this woman was not teaching Christian prayer__although she
may have thought she was.
The story is told that Thomas Merton, before becoming a Trappist
monk, asked a Hindu guru some question regarding spiritual wisdom.
The guru's answer was, "read St. John of the Cross." Now St. John of
the Cross is a Doctor of the Church. What is all this telling us?
Well, the Second Vatican Council told us that non-Christian
religions are joined to the Catholic Church in varyious ways. (Lumen
Gentium #15) These religions have a part or "ray" of the truth while
the Catholic Church contains the fulness of the truth and the means
to salvation. All baptized Christians are somehow related to the
Church. Our separated brethren are in communion with the Catholic
Church in varying degrees and draw their holiness and life from the
Catholic Church. Thus, if we look around we will find all we need in
the Catholic Church. So many people go off looking for "gurus" of
prayer when in fact the Church has the fulness of the truth to tell
us about prayer in Her long tradition and in Her saints.
These other religions may have techniques for relaxation and
relaxing is good__but they are not prayer. In response to a question
about Oriental Zen and Transcendental meditation Our Lady of
Medjugorje answered, "Why do you call them 'meditations,' when it
deals with human works? The true meditation is a meeting with Jesus.
When you discover joy, interior peace, you must know there is only
one God, and only one Mediator, Jesus Christ."
As we began, prayer is a living relationship and communion with
the Persons of the Trinity. Only with Them will we as Christians
find fulfillment in prayer and a true experience of prayer.